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Report on the 81st Birthday Celebrations of BHAGAWAN BABA - PART-1: 18th & 19th NOVEMBER, 2006

 

Rathotsavam

The 81st Birthday celebrations of Bhagawan commenced with the traditional Rathotsavam or Chariot Festival on the morning of the 18th of November. At 7.30 a.m., Bhagawan granted Darshan to the thousands seated in Sai Kulwant Hall. Then, at Bhagawan’s command, the beautifully bedecked palanquins of Lord Sri Krishna and Lord Sri Rama along with Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman were brought out of the Bhajan Mandir by the Sevadal and taken out through the Gopuram entrance. After the idol of Lord Sri Krishna was mounted on the chariot, Bhagawan Himself ceremoniously initiated the procession on its way to the Sri Pedda Venkama Raju Kalyana Mantapam, to the accompaniment of Veda chanting and Bhajans by the students.

On this sacred Rathotsavam day, as one sees Bhagawan Baba amidst the idols of Lord Sri Krishna and Lord Sri Rama, one is reminded of the verse from the Bhagavath Gita where the Lord declared – “Dharma Samsthapanarthaya Sambhavami Yuge Yuge” (for the re-establishment of righteousness, I incarnate from age to age). Indeed, it is our good fortune that the Supreme One who had earlier incarnated as Lord Sri Rama and Lord Sri Krishna has now come again in our midst as Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

After the morning programme, at about 10.45 a.m., Bhagawan inaugurated the new shelter for His pet elephant - Sai Gita, which is located adjacent to the Planetarium. The aesthetically designed shelter, painted with pleasing colours and lit by a chandelier hung from its high roof, stood as a testimony to Bhagawan’s infinite and equal love for all of His creation. After the inauguration, as is His practice, Bhagawan lovingly fed Sai Gita with fruits and sugarcane, before accepting Arati and returning to His residence.

In the evening, there was a music programme by artistes from Russia. They rendered a medley of devotional and folk songs in Russian language to the accompaniment of guitar and a harp-like instrument called Psaltery. The psaltery is an ancient instrument dating back to almost 3 B.C. and finds a mention in the Old Testament as ‘Nebel’. And the book of Psalms came to be known as the Psalter or Psalterium as they hymns were usually sung to the accompaniment of this instrument. The music programme kept the audience enthralled with its sweet melodies for close to an hour. Thereafter, there were Bhajans concluding with Arati.

Ladies Day

19th of November every year is celebrated as International Ladies Day in honour of Mother Easwaramma, the earthly mother of Bhagawan, who was a paragon of virtues and who embodied the ideals of womanhood and motherhood.

At 8 a.m., led by a procession of girl students chanting Vedic hymns, Bhagawan arrived in Sai Kulwant Hall which was colourfully decked for the occasion with floral decorations of many attractive hues. Bhagawan then lit the ceremonial lamp placed next to the big portrait of Mother Easwaramma amidst loud applause from the thousands gathered in the hall. While some children stood in the center of the hall holding the flags of many nations, seven young girls dressed in costumes representing the various cultures of the world offered bouquets to Bhagawan on behalf of all the women of the world. Following this, there was a talk by Ms. Chethana Raju who spoke briefly about the significance of the occasion and the programmes for the morning.

Then there was a performance by the girls’ band from the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School who played on bagpipes while moving about in various formations. Next, the Sai Youth from UK presented a bouquet of songs at the Lotus Feet. Thereafter, there were two speakers who addressed the gathering. The first speaker, Smt. Vasumathi Bhaskara Rao, the Mahila Sevadal Convenor, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, Andhra Pradesh, spoke in Telugu. She recalled her association with Mother Easwaramma when she used to visit Puttaparthy from as early as 1953. On one occasion, when a Seva activity was going on, Mother Easwaramma voluntarily came forward and participated in the activity along with the others. When everyone requested her to go and take rest, she remarked that Seva was the best way one could progress on the spiritual path and continued with the work. Such was her humility and helpful nature. She concluded her talk by saying that women are not in any way disadvantaged to render Seva, and that the energy bestowed upon us by God should be used for serving Him.

The second speaker was Dr. Ronne Marantz from USA. Dr. Marantz completed her Masters and Doctorate degrees in education from the Columbia University. She is a member of Sri Sathya Sai World Federation Education Committee and also on the Advisory Board of Sri Sathya Sai Education in Human Values for USA. Dr. Marantz began her talk by saying that all of us should be grateful to two people: Mother Easwaramma for having been instrumental in giving the world our dear Lord and our own mother for having given birth to us and granting us the good fortune of being a contemporary of Bhagawan Baba and experiencing His love. Dr. Marantz recalled how when she had attended an International Bal Vikas Conference at Prasanthi Nilayam way back in 1981, she got introduced to the concepts of Educare, Education in Human Values and Integral Education directly by Bhagawan. She then narrated how she tried to implement these concepts in her life as a mother and as a teacher in a school at New York, and how she, her teacher colleagues and students benefited immensely from this. In conclusion, she observed that the concept of Education in Human values that began in a small way years ago has now spread to more than 95 countries across the world. And the reason for this is nothing but the power of Love.

The evening programme commenced at 3.15 p.m. when Bhagawan Himself lovingly gifted silk sarees to many lady devotees. When an old lady who was seated in wheelchair tried to get up and walk up to Bhagawan to receive the saree from His divine hands, Bhagawan asked her to be seated and He Himself got up and walked all the way to her, placed the saree in her hands and touched her head in blessing. This scene was so moving that everyone in the hall spontaneously applauded Bhagawan’s unbounded love and compassion towards His devotees, and the good fortune of that devotee.

At 4 p.m., the girl students of Sri Sathya Sai Primary School presented a dance depicting scenes about Bhagawan’s birth and childhood. The programme that lasted for the good part of an hour was marked by colorful and shining costumes, good choreography and pleasing music that was a feast to the eyes and ears. Following this, there was a vocal concert by the famous ‘Priya Sisters’ – Ms. Hari Priya and Ms. Shanmukha Priya. They had the audience agog with their mellifluous voices while rendering classical carnatic songs interspersed with Shlokas, Mira Bhajan and Sai Bhajan. At about 6.10 p.m., the Ladies Day celebrations came to an auspicious end with Arati being offered to Bhagawan.

Jai Sai Ram.